A theory on why Bucs' defense is struggling

TAMPA, Fla. -- It’s no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense, a point of strength early in the season, has slipped in recent weeks.

The Bucs have allowed an average of 30 points over the past four games. There have been lots of theories about why the defense has slumped, but I heard an intriguing one Wednesday.

“The first couple weeks we were getting fined out of the woodwork," rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence said. “That did take away some of our physicality. The first couple weeks we were crushing quarterbacks, and then we kind of got away from it because we got a lot of penalties."

That logic makes some sense. In the first four games, Dashon Goldson, Lavonte David, Adrian Clayborn and Ahmad Black each were fined by the NFL.

Several other notes from Wednesday:

  • Coach Greg Schiano said Goldson, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, was able to participate in Wednesday’s practice.

  • Running back Doug Martin did not practice. Martin said he’s day to day and believes it will be his decision whether or not he’ll be able to return this season from a shoulder injury. Martin needs surgery at some point, and Schiano said he’ll only be allowed to return if team doctors believe Martin won’t be subject to further damage to the shoulder.